Mar 13, 2005

Never have I known for such a surety

I am so utterly amazed and grateful for the miracles of the gospel. I have had one of the most difficult nights of my life last night; and I slept about two hours. The despair and the darkness I felt overwhelming me, supressing me and trying to choke me, for the first time in my life, gave way to actual fear of the Adversary. In all my lifetime I had never feared him; I knew that I posessed more strength than he; and I knew that I was ready for battle with him and was ready to win; because I was armed in the armour of the gospel of peace.

I have edited this post after waking up suddenly early this morning and realizing that I did not want any ugliness on my webpages. While I had intended it only to help people recognize the lies and deceiving ways of Satan, I decided that it was not a good idea to keep it here. Reading it, until I got to the end and described the beauty and exquisite joy that is found in repentance, I found myself filled with despair.

While I know we all suffer and fall to temptations of every kind, I do believe that the light of Christ, which is in each of us, can help us discern those cunning and deceitful traps. Here I thought to somehow "expose" Satan for the destroyer that he is, but later I realized that I was probably only helping his cause, at least against me, because reading over those words, which while all togther very true, I felt such sorrow.

I myself have gone down those roads at times. We all have. But I truly believe it is more important to focus on the beauty and the gloriousness of our humanity and what we are capable of doing with it, rather than just reminding myself and those of you who read this site of the despair and heartache that ensues after succombing to temptations.

Let us all well remember how Satan starts -- and that is enough. Let us all remember that all it takes is for him to convince us that we are worthless, or for him to place a doubt or fear to cause us to question what we know is true...that is all it takes to take us from the optimal path of following Christ and leading towards Salvation; ever on grasping to that iron rod, to that giant, spacious dark building, that one that draws us, taunts us, and makes us feel inferior just looking at it.

It is never too late, my dear brothers and sisters. We can also turn to Christ. Please, do not despair; do not let your hearts be troubled, for as Christ has said, "Lo, I am with Thee, even until the end of thy days".

I am going to replace my description of the road to self-destruction with words and scriptures that speak of hope and peace; that speak of the exquisite joy that true repentance brings. This is what we need to focus on.

Alma's conversion is a remarkable story of an evil man who had spent his life committing the grossest of sins, causing havoc and destruction wherever he went. Yet this man, this evil man, was able to be forgiven. I am sure it was not easy for him. I am sure he doubted himself many times. I am sure that in those initial stages of repentance, he felt worse than he had ever felt in his entire life. But after he was able to make that most difficult step; that one in having to recognize to his horror his sins, he was then able to receive the greatest, sweetest, purest joy that can ever be known to man, and it is that very joy that only comes from the glorious grace and love of our Savior.

"Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yeah, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." -Alma 36:21

This first stage of Godly sorrow is not something to be feared. It is that first vital step towards our Salvation. It is something we all, every last one of us, can acquire. We only need to be willing to try! Even the greatest of addictions can be broken with the understanding and acceptance of the Atonement. But before we can even get there; before we can even begin to realize that we truly DO merit His grace...we have to be willing.

We may continue to fall, to falter, and perhaps we are unable to completely resist temptation; especially the sorest of ones. But this is when we need the Atonement the most. We must understand that our weaknesses may not be able to be overcome in one process -- we must understand that sometimes, for some of us, it takes a long time, and maybe for some even a lifetime, to be able to truly overcome those very things we so want to be rid of. But we must not curse God for giving us those weaknesses and addictions. The only way we will ever eventually be able to overcome them is to realize that He has given them to us for a reason. He has a specific learning process that He knows that we need to experience; and that process will only happen if we are humbled to the point of submissiveness to the Will of our Father. Sometimes we need to seek external help from friends or loved ones or professionals (I know I have, and I am not afraid to admit it!). Sometimes we need to recognize that in our darkness and humanity, in that very part of us that seems to eternally be damned, in that horrible sense of failure and self-loathing that comes from so many unsuccessful attempts to rid ourselves of our greatest weaknesses, it is here when we need to recognize what the Apostle Paul did about himself.

"7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." -2 Corinthians 12:7-10

An apostle of Christ, brothers and sisters, an apostle of our Lord even suffered such bitterness at an iniquity he posessed that he was unable to get rid of. What does this say about him? What does this say about us??

What does this say about the love our God and our Savior have for us?

What does this say about the whole plan of happiness?

"For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yeah all are hardened; yeah, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made." - Alma 34:9

Oh, dear people that I know and love, and brothers and sisters who I do not know but who I still love, please recognize this, if nothing else! Please see what this scripture in Corinthians is really saying to us!

" For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life." - John 3:16 .

We cannot be exalted above measure...there must needs be opposition; there must needs be temptations and afflictions of every kind.

THIS IS THE ONLY WAY!!. And there IS hope for all of us. No matter what, if we do all that we can do, we can know with a surety that the rest can be laid at His feet, and his grace will succor us and lead us into eternal salvation and celestial glory. Just as Elder Simmons said, "What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)."

A glimmer of hope ignites within us, and we feel that overwhelming sense of love and awe fill our entire being. Could it be possible?? Could I ever merit the grace of our Savior? Did He, in fact, die for me? Did He suffer in Gethsamane for me? After all that I have done...He is still willing to carry me and support me??

He was there and supported Alma, and as I will emphasize again, Alma was one of the most wicked men on the face of the earth.

But Christ loved him and Christ succored him. Christ was there holding him and crying with him.

And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yeah, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison and from bonds, and from death; yeah, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me." -Alma 36:27.

This is true conversion, folks. Conversion cannot and must not be equated with perfection. While in our earthly state, we will never be perfect. We are still unclean and spotted with grime and soot. But we finally receive that witness that speaks to us of Christ's love and understanding of our weaknesses. We submit our will to that of the Father; not because he wants to dominate us, but because He simply loves us and knows what is best for us. Now we are able to truly repent, because we not are able to recognize that yes, we do merit the same grace that everyone else does, after all that we can do.

Suddenly those traps that Satan lies for us become all the clearer and more easily discernable, and we find that we have a greater desire to avoid them and a greater desire to obey the commandments; not because we have to, not because our parents told us so, not because we are afraid of the judgements of man, but simply because we finally have gained a testimony to the Great Plan of Happiness, and recognize at last that the less detours we make, the more exquisite and powerful our joy becomes. We still make mistakes, but we find ourselves travelling down that road less and less, and we find ourselves returning again in a much quicker fashion; simply because we have now taken upon us the name of Christ and we are better able to make those discernments and find we have begun to abhor all that is corrupt and evil.

Let me end this little story by testifying to you of the truth of what I speak here. We all have gone down that road and fallen into that trap that Satan has planted. Some of us have gone farther than others; some of us have gone more often than others. But let me testify to you of this; the only thing that matters is that we learn from our mistakes and repent. We are not comparing who is best or whoo can keep which commandment the longest. This is not a competition. We are all in this together. When we are truly converted to the truth and the gospel, we do not feel this envy or resentment towards others. We truly rejoice when the people we love and cherish finally recognize the trap they are in and make their way back towards God. We truly sorrow when we watch the ones we love begin that trip into despair, and despite all the love we offer, we find we are only rejected and denied.

But true love is charity.

And charity never faileth.

I have learned that I am a posessor of charity only when I am able to love a person who is currently outside of the trap and living his life to the best of his ability, just as much as I love somone going into that trap, and ever after equally will I love someone who is coming out of it. I find that true love exists only when we can recognize and accept our humanity, and rather than judge each other and ourselves us unworthy lost souls, we instead glory in each other's strengths and help each other through our weaknesses. The pure love of Christ is this, brothers and sisters!! It is when we can look at the murderer in the jail cell and look at the current prophet of God, and are able to see that both souls are equally precious in the eyes of God! This is what Christ has done for us. He loves us all equally; but in such a manner we cannot comprehend. I think back at the despair I went through over the past 24 hours, and at how I marvelled that Christ, in His Charity and Love for all of us, not only was well acquainted with my grief, but that he had experienced that horrible heart-wrenching pain and that genuine fear of Satan like I had; but multiplied by every human being born on this earth, and multiplied by not only the pain that comes from our sins, but also from our grief, despair, physical, emotional and spiritual pain and heartache.

When I begin to think about this, I realized why that great and last sacrifice had to be the sacrifice of a Perfect Being. No one else could have born the gall of bitterness and the destructive forces of sorrow and grief that He, our Savior, had to bear. No one but a Divine Advocate could have done this for us! And even He, in His perfection, bled from every pore!

But I see the beauty and the wisdom in the Mysteries of God and in His plan of happiness, and in His gospel. I see that the sacrifice itself was not an end in itself, but as it were the great and LAST sacrifice, it was also a beginning. Before we even got here God knew that we had to experience opposition; to know the sweetness of unconditional love and the bitterness of apathy and hate. He knew we had to make choices in order to actually realize our divine potential, and He knew that the only way this could happen would be to allow us to sin.

This has been the plan from the beginning. That sacrifice was expedient for us to be able to eventually become like Him through the bitterness of wrong choices and the pure joy and sweetness of experiencing true repentance. As Alma said, there was nothing as bitter as his sorrow for his sins, but there was nothing as exquisite as his joy at finally being able to fully experience repentance. If we didn't sin, we would never know the significance of that sacrifice.

"Therefore it is expeident that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shll there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; and it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.

And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal." - Alma 34:13-14

I will close by telling you that I truly know how Alma felt. My sins are different from his, but the emotions that flooded through me through the entire repentance process was indeed the same.

I also implore you all as well as myself to be alert and vigiliant, for Satan is getting harder and harder to discern during these last days. So many of his lies have been turned into acceptable practices in our society, that we begin to confuse right and wrong. It is so much better to avoid the whole horrible experience with him if we are able to! If we can learn from other people's mistakes, if we can be wise and learn from the teachings of the prophets, if we can be prudent and regularly study our scriptures and to serve each other with a pure heart, we will find more strength to overcome temptation and more power to resist being led back into that awful hell that has been disguised as a palace of treasures and pleasures.

There is truly nothing as painful as the Godly sorrow that comes upon us when we recognize that we have sinned; and we recognize that God cannot look upon us with the least bit of allowance. Yet how great and exquisite is the joy of being able to experience His love through the actual acceptance and understanding of His Beloved Son's Atonement! I testify that there is nothing sweeter; nothing better, nothing that can bring greater joy that that of repentance and of understanding the significance of that great and Last Sacrifice.

And this is a joy and a peace that man and this world cannot give, but can only be given to us by our Father through His Son. But it is also a joy and peace that man can never, ever take away. For it is truth eternal, and it is the most precious gift any of us can ever be given.

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